We live in a high-stress, fast-paced world. Even though the world took a collective pause when people were asked to stay home, it’s not as though things calmed down. Work still happened for many, just from home–and that’s for the “lucky” people! Millions of Americans were or are out of work, trying to decide what comes next in a very different landscape.
School still happened/is happening for people with children, but with the challenges of Zoom and distance learning. For those going back to school, there have been stresses wondering if in-person learning will last, or in what format schooling will occur.
If you’re working you might not feel so lucky. Keeping up and getting ahead is more competitive than ever!
Given the social isolation of modern life, the strange “connectedness” of social media and the stressors described above, is it any wonder that a record number of Americans are dealing with anxiety and/or depression?
There may be things you can do to climb out of the tangled snare of anxiety.
Read on and find out how.
Nootropics for Anxiety
The term “nootropics” might be relatively new, but the concept of taking a vitamin or herb to improve one’s mental state is a concept as old as humanity.
One of the biggest differences now, though, is that we can apply modern scientific understanding to the plants and herbs suspected of enhancing mental states, and determine if they are nothing but old wive’s tales or genuinely effective.
For example, ashwagandha has been used for centuries as part of the traditional medicine in India, ayurvedic medicine. Now, it is understood to be an anti-inflammatory herb and also an adaptogenic. Adaptogens help the body adapt and handle stress. In studies involving laboratory animals, ashwagandha has protected against ulcers, increased stamina and performance of physical tasks, and even proven beneficial at fighting tumors.
While such studies have not been replicated in humans, in human studies ashwagandha has been proven to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue over placebo. In one study, ashwagandha even reduced morning oral cortisol levels by 23%, versus participants receiving placebo. Cortisol is sometimes referred to as the “stress hormone” because the body releases it in response to stress. Too much cortisol has been linked to body fat, also, particularly stubborn midsection weight.
Another important adaptogen is Rhodiola Rosea. Used by the peoples of Scandinavia and Russia for centuries, this herb has been linked to improved brain function, decreased stress, fatigue, and depression, and enhanced exercise performance. What’s more, studies have shown these improvements in as little as three days of supplementing with Rhodiola Rosea.
Taurine for anxiety also has enormous potential for benefit. The problem is that taurine is commonly added to high-caffeine, high-sugar, so-called energy drinks. The additional caffeine and sugar can increase stress on the body and cause a post-sugar energy crash.
When taken correctly, such as in supplemental form, taurine has been shown to:
- Protect brain development
- Improve learning
- Enhance memory
- Decrease anxiety
- Improve symptoms of depression
Given the effectiveness of taurine for treating anxiety, it is recommended that anyone feeling “stressed out,” like their “nerves or shot,” or suffering from anxiety take nootropics with taurine, but not energy drinks.
GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid) is an amino acid naturally produced in the brain and also available in supplemental form. GABA enhances communication between brain cells and is thought to reduce pain, boost sleep, enhance mood, and improve relaxation and calm.
All of these ingredients are part of our proprietary blend nootropic, MoodTech.
Anxiety Treatments that Really Work
Taking nootropics for anxiety has the best chance for success if you also follow a regiment of the scientifically proven choices which fight stress and anxiety.
Can you treat anxiety naturally?
Absolutely. These items might fall under the category of “lifestyle choices,” and at first the list can seem a bit daunting. Particularly for those suffering from severe anxiety and/or depression, even getting started on such a list might seem impossible.
Fortunately, simply taking the first item on the list and working on it can then lead to enough benefit to start finding an increased ability to tackle the other items on the list. These factors are also symbiotic–meaning improving one can radiate into improvement in the others.
While there’s no particular order to how you go about this, a general rule is to start with whatever you can most easily do and maintain. Once you have a few weeks of practice on that item, add the next item without ceasing your first. In that way, you can build up the habits associated with all of these practices. Combined with your nootropics, you can begin to see a dramatic shift in your mental state, and also your approach to new stresses as they occur.
- Eat food that promotes healing – People eat to not be hungry, eat as part of social interactions, eat to build muscle, and all kinds of other reasons, but arguably the best approach to “eating right” is to eat what promotes your health and longevity. Longevity diets have become a trend because they help trigger healing cycles in your body, which not only can add years to your life but also delay the other effects of aging.
- Get regular exercise – Exercise has numerous benefits–joint health, strength, appearance; it also can reduce your anxiety.
- If you already have an exercise routine you enjoy — make it a habit!
- If you do not like exercise, try something new. The general rule is to try something 5 times before determining whether or not it is for you.
- If you really struggle with exercise, consider hiring a personal trainer. The exercise advice, variety, accountability, etc can help you get the results you seek.
- Meditate – Meditation, even for as little as five minutes per day, has been proven to decrease stress levels, improve mental function, and enhance health. If you’re new to meditation, start with a 2-minute timer. Sit comfortably (no need to chant or do yoga), and let each thought come, examine it, and let it go. You may have heard about “clearing your mind,” but you will not get rid of all thoughts, even with advanced meditation practice. You can, however, gain control of your thoughts. Consider using a guided meditation app until you become familiar with this powerful tool.
- Create a less stressful environment – If you have a stressful life, this one can seem impossible, but consider that it is just like exercise–it takes practice. You can have a high-stress working environment, and still create space for yourself to have peace– somewhere! Visit a garden or art museum. Take up knitting. Have something that you do or somewhere you go that is just for you. Then go three times per week. You can also improve your environment by:
- Cleaning and organizing your space– it’s been proven to decrease stress.
- Taking solace in nature, getting outside, and doing something you enjoy to decrease stress.
- Identifying the specific people who suck the energy and life out of you and reducing or eliminating such contacts.
- Strengthening relationships with people that enhance your joy.
5. Get enough sleep – Sleep is vital to physical and mental health. Too little sleep causes stress, disease, and advanced aging. If you have real trouble sleeping, this might be the last item on this list you can address, but all of the other lifestyle factors (diet, exercise, meditation, and improving your environment), also affect sleep. So, if you work on the others first, you may find your sleep improving.
Another top tip is visualization: picture yourself sleeping, to fall asleep. As you lay there, not sleeping, it is completely natural to think, “I can’t sleep,” but unfortunately you may be making it so! Instead, try visualizing yourself sleeping restfully.
Taking mood tech nootropics may also assist with the relaxed frame of mind necessary for quality sleep.
As you work your way through these five factors, until they become habits, you can change your mind and your body.
While none of these techniques is a substitute for competent medical care, they are proven strategies to reduce stress, improve health, and achieve an improved mental state.